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tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  June 18, 2010 8:00pm-8:59pm EDT

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win in states where the other side has won before, you are somebody to watch for higher things. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "countdown" with keith olbermann starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? having made clear everything he is not at yesterday's hearing -- >> i'm not stonewalling. i'm not the drilling engineer so i'm not actually qualified to make those judgments. i simply was not involved in the decision making process. >> bp chief executive tony hayward can add one more not to the list. not in charge of day-to-day operations in the gulf of mexico. at least not anymore. tonight congressman anthony weiner on the end of the hayward era and the republicans who defended him. industry veteran bob kavnar on holding bp accountable.
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we still don't know what went wrong or why. also what bp still doesn't want you to see. the company's campaign of intimidation continues. >> why do you want to eliminate the epa when we're in our worst environmental disaster in this country? >> sharron angle takes questions from the press finally but perhaps it would have gone bet fer the nevada senate nominee had actually known her own positions. >> where are you getting these questions? >> still, more questions than answers about the official democrat nominee for the senate in south carolina. >> i have no comment on that. >> but have you asked yourself this? wouldn't alvin greene still be a better senator than the incumbent republican jim demint? and yes we will have another chapter of fridays with thurber. tonight the black magic of barney haller. confusion with language that has nothing to do with politics for a change. >> i goç hunt grotches in the
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voods? >> all that and more on "countdown." good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. and bob dudley is in for tony hayward. mr. dudley, bp's managing director, will replace mr. hayward overseeing day-to-day operations in the gulf of mexico. our fifth story tonight, fallout or spillover from mr. hayward's testimony? and the remarks of house energy and commerce lead republican joe barton with whom we begin. barton apologized to bp executives yesterday for the white house shaking them down for money to compensate gulf coast residents. then he withdrew the words shake down and apologized for apologizing. after republican leadership threatened to strip him of his committee leadership post. today despite a few outliers
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like republican senate candidate rand paul voicing sympathy for mr. barton he continued to draw fire from both parties. the dnc today released a new ad expected to air on both this network and cnn urging voters to tell republicans not to apologize to big oil and used barton for a fund raising e-mail. gulf coast republican congressman joe bonner of alabama today released a statement calling for barton to step aside as ranking member of the energy committee. mr. bonner wrote that barton's apology to bp, quote, simply does not reflect the position of the vast majority of house republicans. in fact, barton was apologizing for a shakedown and a shakedown is exactly what the republicans study committee whose membership includes both bonner and the vast majority of house republicans called it just the day before. but while the gop was apologizing to hayward, bp was
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moving him. the chairman said today that hayward had made remarks that upset people. he himself called gulf coast residents the small people but said hayward will be replaced as day-to-day supervisor of spill operations by bp managing director bob dudley even though it's not clear that hayward ever was in charge of day-to-day operations in the gulf judging by his answers at yesterday's hearings, despite two months of this spill, despite the fact that the committee sent hayward questions in advance, mr. hayward repeatedly had no answers as demonstrated in this montage pulled from a span of less than five minutes. >> i wasn't part of that decision making process. i was not involved in that
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decision, so it's impossible for me to answer that question. >> all right. could you tell us how much money bp saved by not using the proper number of centralizers? >> i'm afraid i can't recall that. >> how much time was saved? >> and i don't recall that either i'm afraid. i can't recall that number i'm afraid. i can't answer that question because i wasn't there. >> thank you. how much money did avoiding this procedure save? >> i'm afraid i can't recall. i'm afraid i can't recall that either. that was a decision i was not party to. >> how much did the installing of the lockdown sleeve save bp? >> i don't know. >> how much time did installing the lockdown sleeve save? >> i'm afraid i don't know that either.
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oh, you'll get it as soon as we can make it available to you. >> with us tonight is a democratic member of the energy and commerce committee, new york congressman anthony weiner. thanks for coming in tonight, congressman. you were at that hearing yesterday. how surprising was this testimony? you've had many hearings over the years. where many business executives come in and testify about their practices and procedures. they prepare for it. they anticipate your questions. you often let them know what the questions are going to be. is this what you expected? >> i'm afraid i can't recall. no. i'm just kidding. actually i've never seen anything like it. we counted in my office how many times he said either i can'tç recall or i don't know or it wasn't my responsibility -- 77 times, which even by the standards of congress is an enormous amount. what troubles me is i find it hard to believe that bp decided today to make this change. i believe what they did is they sent this guy up there, said don't tell them anything.
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stonewall because you're on the way out anyway and we don't want the guy actually in charge to take these questions. this has been a dance by bp from the very moment go and the only thing i'm surprised at is anyone expected anything different from hayward when he came to congress. >> do those answers "i don't know" the legal functional equivalent of trying to take the fifth amendment with congress? i mean, this, remember, starts to my mind as a homicide case involving 11 victims of industrial homicide on that rig and everybody at bp knows that and they're trying to protect themselves from these investigations so wasn't this just an alternative to taking the fifth? >> that's exactly what i said. i said they really should have cut out all of the hearing and just taken the fifth. what is troubling to me is every time someone from bp claiming to be the guy in charge steps forward he steps forward only for the purpose of saying i wasn't in charge or i didn't know. i don't expect that to change tomorrow. i mean, to some degree i think what hayward was doing was taking the bp company line here which was we know we're dead to
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rights here. so we better just not say anything at all and it's just what is it doing, salting the wounds even deeper for the victims and the victims go beyond just the families of those 11 people who tragically were lost. it's now the entire country and i got to tell you something, it is stunning to me if congress lets them get away with this rather than calling the new guy back right away, and asking those same questions again, i think we're making a mistake. >> you know gerald martin. you served with him on the committee. he is the republican leader of the kmicommittee. he would be the chairman if the republicans controlled the congress now and if the republicans controlled the house next year he will be the chairman of that committee. i assume he wouldn't even be having hearings on this subject or only apology hearings where he could bring in the executives and apologize to them as he did yesterday. i hate to keep asking you how surprised were you but i've never seen anything like that moment in congressional hearings before. >> you know, i like joe martin and i spoke to him about it on the floor and he apologized but let's remember something. you pointed out in your intro,
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this is effectively the company line for the party. to seeç i'm shocked that joe barton holds this position a lot of them were saying very similar things. the institive, knee-jerk reaction of republicans when it comes to big oil is to support them. that should not come as a very big surprise. i think what is surprising is that they're acting so shocked. you know, i like joe barton. i don't think he should lose his seat or anything because i think frankly he does reflect his caucus. >> don't the rest of them have to apologize for joining this notion that right before this hearing that it is a shakedown? >> that's exactly right. you know, barton was not the first to say any of these things. this was the company line among republicans after the president -- the irony is for weeks they've been saying why doesn't the president call in bp and grab them by the la pels and shake money out of them? he does exactly that as he should and takes bp out of the decision making process and immediately is criticized for doing that. that is the problem. right now the republican party doesn't know where they are because they have such a love affair with big oil and now even
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big oil in their minds is indefensible. >> congressman weiner democrat of new york, thanks very much for your time. >> thank you. i apologize for not being prepared you're prepared enough for us. let's bring in a veteran executive from the oil and gas industry now a contributor at huffington post, good evening. your thoughts on hayward's testimony yesterday or lack of testimony yesterday? >> hi, lawrence. i'm afraid i can't recall either. i was pretty surprised at the answers that hayward gave yesterday. i guess surprised in a certain way but then this has been the typical position bp has taken. you certainly know that hayward knows the answers to all of these questions. he was clearly coached to not answer and i do agree that he was basically taking the fifth without taking the fifth and clearing the way for dudley to take over operations after he steps aside today. >> will we be able to get the
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answers to some of those questions especially the ones about how much did you save by this particular maneuver and how much did you save by that one? won't that be in memos and budget documents somewhere that the congress will eventually discover? >> i think there's going to be a lot of that to come out, lawrence, but you recall these wells are very complex and it's going to be difficult to bifurcate some of the numbers to where it's clear what was --ç what option saved more than another. but i think the pattern of behavior is going to be fairly clear as the investigations go forward. >> senator grassley has released a letter saying bp as a matter of practice was not complying with minerals management services regulations governing blowout preventors because mms never asked them to. so who is at fault there? >> one of the issues here, lawrence, that needs to be addressed during this moratorium is the relationship between mms
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and companies especially in the offshore but also the regulations themselves. the problem we have with the mms and a lot of the offshore regulations and rules is that they're self-enforced, self-certified. and the mms for years has depended on the companies to just tell them that they're doing the right thing. and i think that's one of the things that needs to be changed. >> now, mr. hayward frequently said he has to wait until the investigation is complete to draw any conclusions about what went wrong, what should have been done differently. but surely there must be at this point some obvious, preliminary findings that they know about, about who was at fault at what point in the operations of this rig. are we really going to be in the dark until the completion of some investigation that could go on for who knows how long? >> no. i don't think we'll be in the dark at all, lawrence. as a matter of fact, i was really surprised at the thoroughness of the letter from waxman and markey pointing out
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the five faults in the completion that led up to the blowout. i think that's going to give a real good path to future investigators as to what went wrong here. i think it is going to be very clear. in fact, most of us in the industry pretty much have figured out what's gone on here so i don't think it's going to be a mystery at all. >> coast guard admiral thad allen today said the relief well might be done in a few weeks rather than mid august as was first thought. now, i feel funny asking this question because we've asked it about so many procedures before. is this, what we're hearing today, actual good news that we might be able to believe in? >> you know, i think it may be. when they started drilling the first relief well, most in the industry thought it would kind of be mid july when that first well was down. so a lot of us, especially me, were surprised to hear that it would be mid august before the well was finished. i think there was a little bit of sand bagging in the numbers
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going on but i think that mid july is probably a pretty good number especially if they only have about 2,000 more feet to drill to intersect the blowout well bore. >> bob cavnar oil industry veteran, thank you very much for your unique insight tonight. >> great talking to you, lawrence. coming up next, bp's security guards blocking public beaches. we'll talk with one reporter about his attempt to get the story. and later, it wasn't chicken for checkups but it was close. the nevada republican senate nominee comes unglued when a reporter asks about her positions on the issues. [ male announcer ] fact: every time you take advil, you're taking the medicine doctors recommend most for joint pain. more than the medicines in tylenol or aleve. the medicine in advil is the #1 doctor recommendation
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this bp executive put out a memo telling employees they are allowed to talk to the media so why didn't the word filter down to the security guards working on a public beach? this senate candidate has been trying to convince republicans she is not extremist. instead, sharron angle's latest
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interview might convince them she is extremely confused. and we all know this man is perhaps the most mysterious senate candidate of all time but shouldn't we be asking if democrat alvin greene might actually be a better senator than incumbent jim demint? all that and more ahead on "countdown."
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"countdown" has catalogued the many instances of bp preventing journalists from getting access to the gulf oil spill and intimidating its own cleanup workers to keep them from wearing protective gear. in our fourth story tonight wdsu
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news anchor scott walker who was prevented from speaking to cleanup workers will join me in a moment. you will recall that bp is trying to stop its own cleanup workers, many of them fishermen, from wearing protective gear as the executive director of the louisiana environmental action network told us this week. >> when our folks, our fishermen folks had their respirators on they were told to take them off, that they would be fired if they used them. i think that perhaps they're afraid they'll admit some sort of liability that there is a problem in the air if they allow them to use the respirators. >> another guest on this program confirmed this. monique hardin the codirector of advocates for environmental human rights whose group was providing protective gear to workers at no charge. >> what we have been told by the folks who are involved in the cleanup work is that when they have come to the job site wearing the respirators and protective gear they've been
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provided they were told by bp representatives they would be terminated from employment if they worth and had to get rid of them. >> and our next guest sparred with bp's on-site supervisor on grand isle, louisiana over access to parts of the beach cleanup workers. >> every security guard here has been given instructions to every single news crew you can be outside of a hundred yards of the workers along the boom. >> who is saying that? because nobody can tell me unless you're the jefferson parish sheriff's office, you're the coast guard, or you're the military, can you tell me where to go on this public beach. >> i can tell you where to go because i am employed to keep this beach, i am employed to keep this beach safe. >> joining me now wdsu news anchor scott walker. thanks for your time tonight, scott walker. >> no problem. glad to be here. >> okay. can you describe the rest of that exchange that you had there? >> well, from there they
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eventually they called the jefferson parish sheriff's office on us. we didn't call the sheriff's office. they called them to intervene. the sheriff's office basically said it's a public beach. they can go where they want to go so we eventually got over to that tent which was my goal in the beginning was just to get to the tent with the cleanup workers. didn't really expect them to talk but wanted the opportunity to ask them if they had anything to say. >> when you got to them were you able to ask some questions of those workers? >> i was able to ask. once i got there and had some -- had clearance -- but i did have to tell the supervisor there that the guy down the beach told me i could and he, after i told him that told the workers, don't answer his questions. don't answer his questions. point blank. i said, well this guy down the beach told me i could ask the questions. now you're telling them not to answer the questions. so after that, i did ask the questions with, you know, ignoring his objections. and the workers there ultimately all said, no. we don't want to be on camera.
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t that was as i'm asking the questions another guy was saying you don't have to say anything if you don't want to. you don't have to say anything if you don't want to. i think they were definitely intimidated and fearful they may lose their jobs if they were to talk to the media. i've talked to several off camera saying yeah not only were we forced to sign this early on not to talk to the media and now that it's not in the contract as i understand they still aren't willing to talk to the media much because of the underlying fear they could lose their jobs and a lot of these people need the work. >> what was your sense of what you walked into there? did this feel like an isolated incident where a couple guys might be overstepping their authority bounds in trying to control what you were doing or did you get the feeling that this is the program? this is what they've been told to do by bp wherever they are? >> it's clearly what they were told to do, because i've had several run-ins other than the one documented on camera, one the day before where we ran into security guards that told us the same thing. every time we pressed them they repeated time and time again, we're here in support of the
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cleanup effort. different people said the same thing. we're here in support of the cleanup effort. so they were well versed in what to say to the media as well and not give away much. >> is this what you expected? had word been filtering through the local media that this is what's going on on these beaches? >> absolutely. we expected to be hassled because we heard of different print and broadcast organizations that had problems ]h security and we knew our rights and we knew we could go down there and walk up to the boom that separated the contaminated area from the uncontaminated area. we did not have to stay outside of a hundred yards from the workers and we could talk to the workers according to what the bp ceo said two days prior to that run-in. we knew what we could do yet the word hadn't filtered down to the people charged with securing the beach. there was a big disconnect from the top of the organization to the people charged with enforcing the regulations they want to put in place. >> what are the people charged with enforcing the regulations going to do now? they've learned now that they cannot prevent you from access to the public beaches.
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where do you think this coverage goes from here? >> well, to bp's credit after our story aired on friday and sort of blew up on the internet over the weekend when we went back this past tuesday for a followup we had no obstructions on the beach. complete access. anywhere we wanted to go. we talked to who we wanted to talk to, went to the tents. still none of the workers would talk but we weren't hassled by anybody at all. so i think from here we'll have to stay with it. >> we're getting a little satellite delay here. don't worry about it. scott walker our nbc affiliate wdsu in atlanta. many thanks for your time tonight. >> in new orleans. thank you. >> oh, in new orleans. okay. we'll get that straight next time. still ahead, it's still thurber friday here on "countdown" and coming up next, remember katie couric's palin interview? nevada republican sharron angle is starting to make sarah palin seem very well prepared in comparison. ♪
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ahead on "countdown." since winning the chance to face majority leader reid in the general election sharron angle has largely avoided talking to reporters. we'll show you why. and alvin greene might not be the most polished candidate when he talks to reporters but wouldn't he an improvement over the alternative republican senator jim demint?
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before yesterday the sharron angle media strategy had been flawless. don't talk to anyone except fox news channel. but in our third story that was before she showed up at a so-called harry reid retirement party at a las vegas restaurant yesterday where the local news media finally got a chance to ask her some questions. stony's north 40 restaurant was the scene of the crime. nevada's republican candidate for senate was on hand to greet well wishers and do a talk radio interview. for ten days, since coming from behind to beat sue louden in the republican primary angle had successfully held local nevada media at bay. instead of speaking with them angle came to new york for friendly interviews on the fox news channel with "fox and friends" and sean hannity. yesterday back in nevada angle relented for a brief chat with a rep)áuq) from the las vegas cbs affiliate klas.
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the first topic for discussion was angle's position on social security, which taken directly from her campaign website reads, free market alternatives, which offer retirement choices to employees and employers, must be developed and offered to those still in their wage earning years. as the social security system has transitioned out. young workers must be encouraged to investigate personal retirement account options. in other words, she would end social security, pure and simple. here is angle's defense of that position. >> why do you want to eliminate it for younger folks? because your plan calls for trans itioning out. >> have you believed harry reid -- >> your own website says transition out. >> transition into a personalized account. >> ending social security as we know it.
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>> personalized social security account that they can't raid. >> the stock market though almost crashed in 2008. millions of seniors would have had their savings account -- >> you are putting words into my mouth from harry reid and i want you to be very clear on this. i'm here to save social security. harry reid is here -- >> by transitioning out of it. >> harry reid is here to bankrupt social security. >> we then asked angle about her quote calling for the elimination of the environmental protection agency in the midst of the oil spill. why do you want to eliminate the epa when we're in our worst environmental disaster in this country? >> where are you getting these questions? the issues are not about the epa. >> but you want to eliminate the epa, correct? >> the issues are homes here in nevada. he is trying to make this a campaign about me, but where is harry? go ask harry. >> your own website -- >> please go ask harry about the epa and why they have failed. >> and why you want to eliminate
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it. >> why they have failed to do what they needed to do in the gulf. >> angle walked away when we asked about her website once advocating withdrawal from the united nations. she then gave a 20-minute long interview to conservative radio talk host roger hedgecob. she told the assembled media 4-eáq#used to answer this quest about this statement of hers. if this congress keeps going the way it is people are really looking towards those second amendment remedies. >> thank you so much. >> what do you mean when you say second amendment remedies? anything? we kept asking into the parking lot but received no answer. why won't answer what second amendment remedies means? nothing at all. it's a simple question. >> dave weigel is a "the washington post" political reporter and he is the author of the blog right now. dave, you know politics. you've read the second amendment. what could she possibly have meant by second amendment
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remedies? >> she was teasing out a line of rhetoric that you hear a lot at tea parties that things are so bad that we look wisconstfully at the way the founding fathers handled things and that's by rebelling. they realized instead -- they should come to a point where this was a metaphor she was using. to make it clear she was going a bit over the top but this is what happens when you talk at tea parties and you talk on, you know, that was the roger hedgecock show. she talked on the lars larson show and said this and no one would have noticed but my colleague found this audio clip. the problem is she keeps going on conservative forums saying things like this and people like us notice them. >> now, angle is trying to say that this election is not about me but about harry reid. it sure was about harry reid. until the republican primary went off the rails and now it
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seems it is absolutely going to be about sharron angle and social security as we know it and all of these issues that she has staked out some very extreme opinions on. is she going to be able at any point to turn this back to being about harry reid? >> i think she got a break today with this news that unemployment in nevada is 14%. she immediately tried to blame that on harry reid. the problem is, you can't just as a candidate tell the press what they're supposed to cover. and you can't do that especially if you don't give them access to yourself. and if you turn every question as you saw in that video intoç anpersion you're getting talking points from a politician. i think the bad economic news and the rest of the agenda being bogged down a bit it wasn't great but they've really succeeded in making this about sharron angle's inability to answer questions and, yeah. they scrambled in the last day
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because the electorate has a long time to look at both candidates. you can't just tell them all they're willing to do is look at the record of the incumbent. >> there is no worse image in a political campaign than the candidate literally running away from the camera refusing to answer questions about things they've already spoken on. right. >> not irrelevant things that the reporters are making up. is this the fate of tea party candidates? is this what rand paul and angle are going to be doing until november, whenever you get to that, you know, third question that they're uncomfortable they just start running for the car? >> i think there's, you know, one worse you can get which is getting so angry that you grab the camera or the reporter. this is pretty bad. yes, they can't do it. rand paul i think just benefited from the fact that our news cycle is so busy and sharron angle is so much more obvious and curious in her media strategy that we paid a bit less attention but in the media back home he keeps getting drilled on the points of his policies of what he said when he has been
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speaking in more conservative groups. on the radio shows he has appeared on he's talked about how it's all opposition and all unfair. you know, these candidates i think they've really just been talking to their base for so long for a year or for both of these candidates and tea parties and forums that made them feel very, very safe, that they're not quite used to talking to the rest of the country. and every campaign you win the base over and then you pivot to the middle. but rarely has the base been so dominant as the republican party's base has been via the tea party movement. even during a democratic primary for president all you need to do is make sure the voters in iowa and the voters in new hampshire don't hate you too much. here what sharron angle and rand paul need to do is make sure the most avid out there activists, yeah, who listen to glenn beck, hang on their every word and they can't disappoint them. they've been trapped by that. >> dave weigel of "the washington post" thank you for hopelessly offering campaign advice to the tea party candidates tonight that they cannot possibly follow. >> thank you for that.
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have a good night. coming up on "countdown", it takes a lotç to be the wakiest politician in south carolina. y jim demint actually deserves to lose to the democratic challenger. when rachel joins you at the top of the hour millions of jobless americans could soon be without unemployment benefits unless democrats in the senate reach a compromise fast. senator debby stabenow is her guest. when i signed on with the national guard, i did it to help protect america from our enemies, like in the persian gulf. not to clean up an oil company's mess here in the gulf of mexico. we'll do whatever mission we're given, and do it well. but america needs a new mission. because whether it's deep-drilling oil out here... or spending a billion dollars a day
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on oil from our enemies overseas, our dependence on oil... threatening our national security. thing is, a clean american energy plan would cut our dependence on oil in half. it's more power for america, made here in america. putting our people to work. using all the resources we have. some folks in washington say now's not the time for clean american power. i gotta ask: if not now... when? it's time to make america more secure, with more clean american-made power. conquered mount everest. conquered the neck. philips norelco arcitec. designed with a flexible head, which allows it to pivot and rotate freely. so you can easily get a close shave, even on the neck. and now you can conquer all your shaving and grooming needs with philips norelco, the world's #1 electric razor.
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coming up, isn't anyone going to rise in defense of south carolina's senate candidate alvin greene? i guess that'll have to be me, next. and later, it wouldn't be fridays around here without james thurber readings. i'll keep that tradition alive i'm the key against your side door.
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ten days after winning south carolina's democratic senatorial primary it is now official. democratic party officials in south carolina yesterday upheld the election results after a challenge by second place finisher vic rawls. that means in november it's democrat alvin greene versus republican senator jim demint. even though alvin greene may not be a dynamic public speaker, even though he may not be fluent in the details of governing, isn't he still much better than his opponent? afterç all, it was not alvin greene who pledged to make health care reform president obama's waterloo. it was not alvin greene who voted against expanding children's health insurance
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programs. it was not alvin greene who politicized air safety by holding up the confirmation of a tsa nominee over unionization. it was not alvin greene who voted against requiring fisa court warrants to monitor u.s.-to-foreign calls. nor did he vote against implementing the 9/11 commission report or vote against expanding stem cell research. alvin greene did not vote against modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures, against the stimulus packages, against removing oil and gas exploration subsidies, against reducing oil usage by 40%, by 2025, against raising cafe standards. south carolina republican senator jim demint cast all those votes and demint voted for banning guy adoptions in d.c., for allowing some lobbyists
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gifts to congress, for capping damages and setting time limits in medical lawsuits. not to mention the war in iraq and the bush tax cuts during the war in iraq. alvin greene is unlike any candidate you and i have ever seen. we know precious little about him, but i do know this. alvin greene would be better than jim demint in the united states senate. and keith olbermann is of course the better choice to bring you tonight's edition of "fridays with thurber." the black magic of barney haller still ahead. keith takes over when we come back. when i can save the most cash. done and done. we should do this more often. where you book matters. expedia. [ male announcer ] imagination. it's the most powerful resource on earth.
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sorry i missed the show tonight but we've taken the liberty of keeping our "fridays with thurber" going by tape to remind you i am reading from the library of america, thurber writings and drawings published in 1996. this is one of my favorite of
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the short stories of james thurber originally published in the middle age man on the flying tr trapeze in 1935 called "the black margic of barney haller" by james thurber. it was one of those hot days on which the earth is uninhabitable even as early as 10:00 in the morning even on the hill where i live under the dark maples. the long porch was hot. and the wicker chair i sat in complained hotly. my coffee was beginning to wear off and with it the momentary illusion it gives that things are right and life is good. there were sultry mutterings of thunder. i had a quick feeling that if i looked up from my book i would see barney haller. i looked up. there he was. coming along the road, lightning playing about his shoulders, thunder following him like a dog. barney is or was my hired man. he is strong and amiable, sweaty and dependable, slowly and
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heavily competent. but he is also eerie. he traffics with the devil. his ears twitch when he talks. but it isn't so much that as the things he says. once in late june when all of a moment's sabers began to flash brightly in the heavens and bowling balls rumbled i took refuge in the barn. i always have a feeling i'm going to be struck by lightning and riven like an old apple tree or left with a foot that aches in rainy weather and a habit of fainting. those things happen. barney came in not to escape the storm to which he is or pretends to be indifferent but to put the scythe away. suddenly he said the first of the things that made me when with him faintly creepy. he pointed at the house. once i see this boat come down the rock he said. it is phenomena like that of which i stand in constant dread. boats coming down rocks.ç people being teleported. statues dripping blood.
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old regrets and dreams in the form of luna moths fluttering against the windows at midnight. of course i finally figured out what barney meant or what i comforted myself with believing he meant, something about a bolt coming down the lightning rod on the house. a commonplace, utterly natural thing. i should have dismissed it. but it had its effect on me. here was a stolid man smelling of hay and leather who talked like somebody out of charles fort's books like a traveler back from oz. and all of the time the lightning was zigging and zagging around him. on this hot morning when i saw barney coming along with his faithful storm trudging behind him i went back frowningly to my copy of "swan's way." i hoped barney seeing me absorbed in a book would pass by without saying anything. i read, i, myself, seemed actually to have become the subject of my book, a church, a quartet, the rivalry between francis i and charles v.
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i could feel barney standing, looking at me. but i didn't look at him. this morning by and by said barney i go hunt grotches in the voods. that's fine i said and turned the page and pretended to be engrossed in what i was reading. barney walked on. he wanted to talk some more but he walked on. after a paragraph or two his words began to come between me and the words in the book. by and by i go hunt grotches in the voods? if you are susceptible to such things it is not difficult to visualize grotches. they fluttered into my mind ugly little creatures about the size of whip or wills covered with blood and honey and the scrapings of church bells. grotches. who and what was this thing in the form of a hired man that kept anointing me ominously in passing with abracadabra? barney didn't go toward the woods at once. he weeded the corn.
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he picked apple boughs off the lawn, knocked a yellow jacket nest down out of a plum tree. it was raining but he didn't seem to notice it. he kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye and i kept looking at him out of the corner of my eye. what time is it please he called to me finally?ç i put down my book and sawed it out to him. when you go for these grotches i said firmly, i'll go with you. i was sure he would not want me to go and i was right. he protested he could get the grotches himself. i'll go with you i said stubbornly. we stood looking at each other and abruptly to give him something to ponder over i quoted, i'm going out to clean the pasture spring. i'll only stop to rake the leaves away and wait to watch the water clear i may. i sathant be gone long. you come too. it wasn't very good abracadabra but it served. barney looked at me in a puzzled way. yes, he said, vaguely.
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it's five minutes to 12:00 i said remembering head asked. then we go he said. we trudged through the rain over to the orchard fence and climbed that and opened the gate and went out into the meadow that slopes up to the woods. i had a prefiguring of barney at some proper spot deep in the woods prancing around like a goat casting off his false nature, shedding his hired man's garments, dropping his tutonic accent repeating diabolical phrases conjuring up grotches. there was a great slash of lightning and long bumping of thunder as we reached the edge of the woods. i turned and fled. glancing over my shoulder i saw barney standing and staring after me. it turned out on the face of it to be as simple as the boat that came down the rock. grotches were crotches. crotched samplings which he cut down to use as supports under the peach bough because in bearing time they became so heavy with fruit there was danger of the branches snapping
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off. i saw barney later putting the crotches in place. we didn't have much to say to each other. i can see now that he was beginning to suspect me, too. about 6:00 the next evening i was alone in the house and sleeping upstairs. barney rapped on the door of the front porch. i knew it was barney because he called to me. i woke up slowly. it was dark for 6:00. i heard rumblings and saw flickerings. barney was standing at the front door with his storm at heel. i had the conviction that it wasn't storming anywhere except around my house. there couldn't, without the intervention of the devil or one of his agents be so many lightning storms in oneç neighborhood. i had been dreaming of the church and madelines dipped in tea and the rivalry between francis i and charles v. my head whirled and i didn't get up. barney kept on rapping. he called out again. there was a flash followed by a sharp, splitting sound.
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i leaped up. this time i thought he is here to get me. i had a notion that he was standing at the door barefooted with a wreath of grape leaves around his head and a wild animal skin slung over his shoulder. i didn't want to go down, but i did. he was as usual solid, amiable, dressed like a hired man. i went out onto the porch and looked at the improbable storm now on in all its fury. it's getting pretty bad, i said, meaningly. barney looked at the rain placidly. well, i said irritably, what's up? barney turned his little squinty blue eyes on me. we go to the garret now and become warbs, he said. the hell we do i thought to myself quickly. i was uneasy. i was you might even say terrified. but i determined not to show it. if he began to chant
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incantations or make obscene signs or attempted to sling me over his shoulder i resolved to plunge out into the storm lightning and all and run to the nearest house. i didn't know what they would think at the nearest house when i burst in upon them or what i would tell them but i didn't intend to accompany this amiable looking fiend to any garrik and become a warb. i tried to persuade myself there was some simple explanation that warbs would turn out to be as innocuous as boats on rocks and grotches in the woods but the conviction gripped me in the growling of the thunder that here at last was the moment when barney haller or whoever he was had chosen to get me. i walked towards the steps that lead to the lawn and turned and faced him grimly. listen, i barked suddenly, did you know that even when it isn't
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brilig i can produce slimy toads? furthermore i can becomeç anything i want to. even if i were a warb i wouldn't have to keep on being one if i didn't want tochlt i can be a playing card at will too. once i was the jack of clubs but i forgot to take my glasses off and some guy recognized me. barney was backing slowly away toward the petunia box at one end of the porch. his little blue eyes were wide. he saw that i had him. i think i go now he said. and he walked out into the rain. the rain followed him down the road. i have a new hired man now. barney never came back to work for me after that day. of course i figured out finally what he meant about the garrik and the warbs. he had simply gotten horribly mixed up in trying to tell me he was going up into the garret to clear out the wasps of which i have thousands. the new hired man is afraid of them.


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